FOX 8 Defenders: Homeowner waited months for iron fence job

A New Orleans homeowner paid thousands of dollars on a down payment to add a sense of security around her home, but for months she didn’t think the job would ever get completed. Looking for help, she turned to the FOX 8 Defenders.
Updated: Nov. 9, 2020 at 9:15 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Cynthia McCray wanted to upgrade her Uptown New Orleans home. “I’ve been penny pinching, the money didn’t come easy.. I went into my savings,” she said.

McCray hired a company back in May to install an iron fence that would run along one side of her house and match an existing back gate. “On May the 20th, 2020 I signed a contract with Crescent City Iron Works LLC and Mr. Chris Chauvin,” McCray told us.

She said Chauvin, the owner, quoted her a total cost of $6,500. Her down payment that day would be half that amount, $3,250. “I wrote a check for that amount. He cashed it the same day,” she said.

McCray says the work didn’t get started until mid June when Chauvin’s workers set 10 poles alongside her home. “He came back on July the 15th and set 10 more, and on July the 20th he set six additional poles,” McCray explained. She said days went by, then weeks and ultimately months, with no other work completed, and when she questioned what was taking so long, she says she got excuses.

“Everything.. the men are not reporting to work.. his mother is ill. He has hospital visits.. his mother’s been diagnosed with lupus.. the storage shed is leaking.. the welding machine broke.. I could go on and go on and go on,” McCray said.

Hoping to get answers, McCray drove out to the Metairie address listed on her contract. “Went there, opened the door, it was a vacant office. He wasn’t located where he says he does business,” McCray said.

She explained she had lost sleep worrying about the money she had spent on a deposit for a fence she might never get installed so she reached out to the NOPD, her City Council office, the LA Attorney General and ultimately us, the FOX 8 Defenders.

In the middle of our interview with McCray, Chris Chauvin called her on the phone.

“Mr. Chauvin look don’t argue with me.. that’s been your problem for five months now.. you argue.. you telling me you’re coming. I can’t rely on your conversations. So if you are coming.. if you have the final product, come with it,” McCray told him. In that same phone conversation, he said he knew we were at her home that day with a camera, and asked if we were going to put him on the news. He told her he didn’t want to be embarrassed and because he had a crew of workers available, he’d put her first on his list to get taken care of because her fence was long overdue and his crew would be at her house by the next day.

A couple of workers did show up the next day and installed some of the fence. We reached out to Chauvin several times by phone, but could never leave a message because his voicemail was always full.

While trying to track him down, we confirmed what McCray told us about the Metairie address listed on her contract. We couldn’t find him or any sign of his business there.

After I emailed him, he did call back, and in a brief voicemail said Hurricane Delta had delayed him, but didn’t explain why it’s taken months to put up the fence.

By mid October, another group of workers finally completed McCray’s job.

“I looked in the telephone directory, the yellow pages, and chose a company,” she said.

Next time she explained she’ll research who she’s hiring. A quick search on the Better Business Bureau site revealed an “F” rating because of other similar negative reviews online.

A Secretary of State business filing lists a Kenner address for Chauvin and the fence business. We went there and found a group of men welding fence materials inside a garage. Minutes later Chauvin pulled up, but would only talk to us off camera about the months-long delay in getting McCray’s job done. He stressed he’s a small business that has struggled in the Covid-19 pandemic and expressed that finding skilled people willing to work in the midst of coronavirus concerns has been a challenge. He admitted the fencing job took much longer than expected, and said he’s trying to play catch up on jobs and remain afloat.

As for the Metairie address on McCray’s contract, Chauvin told us that’s where he gets mail.

If you’ve got a consumer issue you want us to address, call the FOX 8 Defenders staffed with volunteers from the National Council of Jewish Women, the NCJW, or fill out our online complaint form.

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